Here, I'm not so much interested in Dennett's ideas on consciousness as I am in his ideas concerning privileged access.


I like the opening idea that there is the folk-belief among people that everyone is an expert on their own consciousness. After all, they have a direct relationship with their own consciousness, and this, thereby, makes them an expert on consciousness.


I'm not all that impressed with this talk -- not that it's not good -- but he really only presents one piece of evidence, and we are lead to the inference that we don't know our own minds only indirectly through that evidence. I was hoping for something a bit stronger.


I like though how he incorporates real time thought experiments into his work.

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I don't read Dudjom Rinpoche to be saying or implying that "the Pransangika view is a "lower order" or level to the higher Yogacara".

And if being 'coarse' equates with possessing "well-informed intelligence" and "supreme reasoning" then I can only dream about becoming coarse.

In general in Buddhadharma with regard to what might be considered ''higher'" and what might be considered "lower" I share the view of my Dzogchen teacher who says, for example, it is absurd to consider Hinayana as being of a lower order or level than Mahayana...or vice versa for that matter. Rather, he argues, different teachings and schools of thought are essentially of equal value in the sense that each one can benefit an individual if that individual has such a predisposition and/or capacity to derive meaning, value and benefit from that particular teaching or school of thought.

Ironically, it would appear that Je Tsongkhapa himself is not immune from considering one view to be "higher" than another, but perhaps one would be wise to examine the context for Gorampa's alleged viewpoint. From Wikipedia here: "Of particular note in his [Gorampa's] characterization, he does not agree with Tsonghkapa that the Prasangika and Svatantrika methods produce different results nor that the Prasangika is a "higher" view. He does also critique the Svatantrika approach as having too much reliance on logic, because in his view the component parts of syllogistic logic are not applicable in the realm of the ultimate. But this critique is constrained to the methodology, and he believed both approaches reach the same ultimate realization."

theurj said:

Yes, I explored a lot of this is several different threads in this forum, the old Lightmind forum and the now defunct Open Integral blog. And Dudjom is correct in that it comes down to the acceptance of the Yogacara-Madhyamaka doctrine. We are seeing this play out in (post)modern terms via the quantum discussion, even to the point of, as above, that the Pransangika view is a "lower order" or level to the higher Yogacara.

And yes, all this is difficult to understand, especially given the differences in meaning when using the same terms. This is why I used Thakchoe as a reference, since he's coming from inside the Tibetan meditative and discursive tradition and has directly participated in the "debates" between the schools. Note though that his referenced book is about the differences between factions within the so-called Prasangika schools, but that this could be characterized as the Yogacara difference therein.

Yes Balder, I think that's where I'm sensing a difference of opinion. I sense Tom's whole means the whole whole, not just a contextualized whole. Like the universal whole, totally (to add Valley speak). Which is of course again the same old song and dance two truths debate we see above and in the intersobject thread, and which Newland highlights.


where would you place the "unbounded wholeness" that Bruce has referred to elsewhere (and which I recall you having no issue with) in terms of or in relation to that same old song and dance two truths debate?

If I recall that means it's open but indeterminate, not that it's a definite or final whole. With that meaning yes, I'm ok with it. If it means something like the totality of all energy/matter in the universal holon of everything sort of way, then no. Not that Tom is saying the latter; just that it seems that way to me sometimes with the language.
"If I recall that means it's open but indeterminate, not that it's a definite or final whole. With that meaning yes, I'm ok with it."

I agree, if 'it' were a definite or final whole 'it' wouldn't be able to wholed infinite potentiality.

Tom must be having a coffee break. Anyway, I found this of his from the WMWNBC thread:

"Once internal relatedness is admitted, the notion of thing dissolves.  No longer can any thing be said to be only-that-thing (the thing-in-itself).  Rather, each thing, in its own particular way, becomes a holographic repository of the rest of the universe.

Internal relatedness therefore signifies wholeness.  This is not a wholeness of parts fitted together (a machine).  That conception is based on external relatedness.  Rather, it is a wholeness of definition, a wholeness that appears in the very act of differentiation.  Because differentiation is either movement-away or movement-toward (ie, negative or positive incorporation of other-in-me), difference exists in the frame of overarching wholeness.  In an internally related universe, relative implies absolute necessarily: the two cannot be found apart.

In my origination I thus play out the history of the entire universe---me and my line of development informing the foreground, the rest of the universe implicitly and necessarily informing the backdrop.

One feature of wholeness (or absolute, or God, or unity---pick your word) is it cannot be said, because all saying partializes.  But the wholeness can be felt and pointed to by analogy.  It, like a circle, cannot be linearly explained in numerical, causal, temporal, spatial languaging.  This is why Bohr says quantum physics renounces visualization and conceptualization.  There is no "because" in wholeness.  It appears necessarily incidental to, as the necessary meta-frame for, partness.  A "particle" therefore appears, in quantum physics, only within and reflecting the whole defined as the entire measurement circumstance."

The above is a good example of certain language that still seems to express the big (no)thing I'm wondering about. The part cannot be a thing-in-itself apart from the whole, yet it appears it can reflect or express as a "repository of the rest of the universe," an "overarching wholeness" within the "entire measurement circumstance." As if there is an entire, whole rest of the universe in totality we can measure? How can one "play out the history of the entire universe," as if we could know that, even with QM measurement?

Granted Tom admits this cannot be "said" or known in a relative (rational) sort of way but we can know it nonetheless through intuitive analogy, our access to the 'whole.' I'm actually with him that we can get a sort of inkling that way but this doesn't seem to me a direct (or even indirect) link to all that is. I guess that's a leap (of faith?) I cannot take.

I'm about to head into the classroom right now, so a longer response will have to wait till tomorrow, but I have a quick clarifying question for now:  Tom, have you dropped 'holon' from your vocabulary?  Or, if you retain it, then would you say that the Whole of which you are speaking is different from 'holon'?

Hi Thomas,


The "ah ha" moment, what you call tacit knowledge... doesn't that ever get things wrong?  I'm worried that it sounds a bit Platonic, like it's considered some sort of infallible connection to ultimate reality.

Tom:  In the Nietzschean octave replay I've been toying with, understanding in the very common sense is a lower-frequency getting.  Higher up is getting something more abstract, like how the political system, err, really works.  That's a system-level getting.  People who haven't the appropriate mental development don't get systems, how polar factions exist in the health and maintenance of a system, etc.  You can talk until you're blue in the face and they won't get it.  They think their politician serves their interests, though they'd be hard-pressed to say how, except by appeal to archetypal mythologems (hero saviour from evil, etc).

You have just 'qualified' or 'situated' understanding in the way I've been saying all along, but which you appear to have been denying up until this point.  I have said that what we understand -- including what implications we might trace out -- is inseparable from the whole implicatory tracing situation (some relevant dimensions of which I highlighted by shorthand reference to AQAL).  The higher octave development you reference is one of those (AQAL) factors.  For some reason, however, when I've said this, you have said, "I don't situate" and "wholeness can't be contextualized" and so on.  But above you just said that that holistic, all-at-once 'getting' happens differently for folks at different stages of development.  Are you 'contextualizing Wholeness' when you say that?  If you do not consider that to be an improper attempt to contextualize The Whole, then I don't 'get' what the point of contention has been, since my point has simply been to highlight the relevance of development (and other factors) to understanding or 'getting' the implication(s) of an observation.


One of my qualifications to your statement above, however, would be that I wouldn't say that the higher octave "really gets" how the political system works, whereas the lower octave does not.  That would be a representationalist view -- which may be why you said "err".  (Or you may have just been hesitating to say the political system 'works' at all!).

Bruce: In holonic terms, yes, of course, part and whole "come together" and have "equal meaning."  But in any speech act, any saying, the 'referents' may shift: part makes sense only in relation to an identified whole.

Tom:  I say they have equal but asymmetrical meaning, Bruce.  A speech act is an act in the particular, so yes, speech-act referents change.  But whole, in my lexicon, remains whole such that there is no "identified" whole.  An identified whole is a part.

Yes, that's what Bortoft would say: the identified or perceived whole is a counterfeit whole.  This, of course, assumes we're speaking about Whole as a metaphysical ultimate, the Ultimate Holon, and not the 'whole(s)' of 'conventional' perception and discourse (the 'whole apple,' the 'whole country,' etc) (and which we may also appeal to when using 'holonic' language, for instance, where tree may be either 'whole' or 'part'). 

In other words, in speech acts, "whole" doesn't have a fixed referent.

Tom:  Whole, to me, is not "defined."  It is the undefined.  That's it's asymmetry compared to part. 
We can say that the whole that Newtonian physics conceives seems different from the whole quantum physics conceives, but those wholes, as it were, are the same whole: everything, the whole universe, all.  Newton's whole, actually, was God. 

So, you're saying that Newton and Bohr are pointing to the 'same whole' regardless of their own understanding of 'whole'?

Tom:  Whole, once contextualized, is a part.  Contradiction, to be contradiction, requires contradiction: two contradictories do not "come together."

By "come together," I mean they are inseparably related: I do not mean they symmetrically "arrive" at the same time, or have symmetric 'status,' in an individual's understanding.

Tom:  From where I stand, Newtonian and quantum physics resolve to the same part-whole frame in something of a Kantian vein.  The mindset is the same; the expression different.

Can you say more about this?  Are you suggesting a similar mindset at different 'octaves'?

Tom:  Nor is there, to me, any difference in wholeness.  A different whole is again a part, limited.  Whole expresses unlimited, infinite, undefined---all these wonderful negations, which is appropriate to wholeness as any posited distinction implies a greater whole.

Would you grant that this understanding of 'whole' as undefinable and infinite -- which, I believe, is in accord with the 'unbounded wholeness' of Bon that I've referenced earlier, and likely with Bortoft's view of whole as 'active absence' -- is nevertheless a particular understanding of whole, a particular stage-specific expression?

(Returning to this page to post, I have just seen your two most recent -- and actually quite beautiful and inspired -- responses; I will turn to them next, after I get a little work done.)

Tom:  There are different wholes?  Those different wholes would be parts, yes?  If two wholes differ in respect of each other, do they not imply a greater whole to which those different wholes refer?

There aren't different wholes, speaking from the point of view of Newton, or Bohr.  But differently-understood-wholes are apparent to the individual who is able to take a meta-view on Newton's and Bohr's differing worldviews; and for a person who perceives such a difference, yes, this may imply a 'greater whole' to which these lesser 'wholes' refer.  If this whole is 'greater,' though, then it is 'other' to Newton's or Bohr's wholes, if yet also simultaneously -- for this speaker -- 'the whole' of which Newton's and Bohr's proclamations are instantiations.


I unfortunately need more time to respond in depth to your rich recent posts, which I don't have at the moment here at work, but I want to say that there is a 'lightning-like' quality to what you said that reminded me of a discussion in Levin's great book, The Opening of Vision, that I recommend checking out.  Start out at the bottom two or three paragraphs at page 413 and continue over on to page 414.

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